Larry King Live

Burlington, VT, August 4, 2003

HEADLINE: Interview With Howard Dean; Will U.S. Catch Saddam Hussein?

GUESTS: Howard Dean, Steve Kroft, Robin Wright, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Bob Graham

BYLINE: Larry King

Interview with presidential contender Howard Dean. Then, is the U.S. close to catching Saddam Hussein?

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Howard Dean, the man everybody is talking about—on this week's “TIME” and “Newsweek” covers. Will he be the one to take on President Bush?

Then, later, is the United States any closer to finding Saddam Hussein and those weapons of mass destruction? We'll talk postwar Iraq with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes”; “L.A. Times” chief diplomatic correspondent and Middle East expert Robin Wright; another Democratic presidential hopeful, Florida Senator Bob Graham, former chairman of Senate Select Intelligence Committee; and Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the chairman of the Military Construction Subcommittee.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with governor—the former governor of Vermont Howard Dean. He's with us from Burlington, Vermont. If you saw the weeklies, they're out, he's on the front cover of “Newsweek,” called “Howard Dean: Destiny or Disaster?”. Front cover of “TIME”, “The Dean Factor.”

Governor, what do you make of all this?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's an exciting time in Burlington and around the rest of the country. I think it's basically time somebody stood up to this president and I'm glad our party is finally coming away.

KING: Why don't you—why aren't you called doctor?

DEAN: Oh, some people do call me doctor. I am a doctor. I'm an internist. I practiced up until the day I became governor, almost 12 years ago.

KING: But the title you most often use is governor, right? I mean, you're not referred to as Dr. Dean?

DEAN: Some people do. I don't really care. You know, the old saying, I don't care what you call me as long as you call me on time for dinner. You know, truthfully most people call me Howard around here.

KING: Any cons to all this attention? There were pros, obviously. You forged ahead,. You're leading in some polls. Any downside to this?

DEAN: Well, there's always a downside. I have a big target on my back from all the other campaigns on the Democratic side. But the good thing is it gives me a platform on how to talk about how to beat George Bush. And the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him.

I think in Washington the game for too long among the Democrats was let's try to be a little bit like him and that's not going to get us elected president and it's not going to get a Democratic president in the White House.

KING: Speaking of the others attacking you, yesterday, on Sunday, Senator Joe Lieberman, another candidate, compared you to George McGovern and described a party led by Dean as a ticket to no where. Today he spoke at the National Press Club. Here's what he had to say and we'll get your comment.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class, I believe will not offer the kind of leadership America needs to meet the challenges that we face today. And as I said in my prepared remarks, I believe that that kind of candidate could lead the Democratic Party into the political wilderness for a long time to come. Could be really a ticket to no where.


KING: Your reaction?

DEAN: Well, obviously I don't agree.

I think the four candidates from Washington that voted for the war, Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards and Representative Gephardt basically gave the president carte blanche in October to launch a preemptive strike and the evidence wasn't there.

Let's look at what the president said. He told us that he was buying—that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. That wasn't true. He told us—or the vice president that Iraq was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. That wasn't true. The president told us there was a clear link between al Qaeda and Iraq. That wasn't true. The secretary of defense told us he knew exactly where the weapons were, right around Tikrit and Baghdad. That wasn't true. So if I could figure that with my foreign policy team as a governor from Vermont, my question is why should we be led by people who couldn't figure that out and who voted to give the president unilateral authority to attack Iraq?

KING: Are you hurt, though, that a fellow Democrat taking you on like that?

DEAN: Listen, if that's the worst I get in this campaign, I'll be in good shape.

Look, these guys have worked hard. They want to be president. Any one of them would be better than the president they have now. But what our party really has to have is some backbone. We are not going to beat George Bush by voting for things like No Child Left Behind, which is a huge middle class tax increase, property tax increase. We're not going to beat him by doing as Senator Lieberman and others did, voting for some of the president's tax cuts because those tax cuts have really harmed our economy and taken jobs away from Americans; and we're not going to beat the president without casting a critical eye on the statements that he made leading up to the Iraq war, when so many of them have now turned out not to be so.

KING: You're not unhappy that Saddam Hussein is not in power though, are you?

DEAN: No, I think it's great that Saddam Hussein is not in power, but I would have approached it in a very different way. And I think the jury is still out in terms of how much danger to the United States this poses.

Now that we're there, we can't get out. We cannot afford to lose the peace. That's not an option. Now that we're there, we have to find a way to make sure that a chaotic situation doesn't develop or, worse, a fundamentalist regime with Iranian influence doesn't develop. And the first thing we really ought to be doing is bringing NATO and the United Nations in so we can send some of our reserves home.

KING: So if you were president tomorrow, that's what you would be doing?

DEAN: Yes, I would begin the process of going to the United Nations, getting a resolution to bring foreign troops in, preferably including some troops from Arabic-speaking nations and some Muslim troops so that we can make this truly an international occupation. I do believe it's a worthwhile goal to rebuild Iraq into a democracy. I think that's unlikely to happen with this president, given his track record in Afghanistan.

I support the president's invasion of Afghanistan because I thought that was an issue for national security of the United States. But I think what s happened since then has been a very bad harbinger of what the president may do in Iraq.

We're under—we have probably a fifth of the number of troops that we need to have in Iraq—excuse me, in Afghanistan. The president is making deals with the warlords, who are certainly not Democratic forces. i think things look bad in Afghanistan. We need the U.N. and NATO to come in and help us there. And the problem is the president has managed to alienate and humiliate all the very countries that we now need to help us maintain the peace both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

KING: How do you react that so many conservative Republicans, some, many on the extreme right, want you to be the candidate? They think you would be the easiest one to beat.

DEAN: Well, I welcome that challenge. You know, they all say, Well, he's so liberal. Well, if liberal is balancing budgets, please do call me a liberal. No Republican president has balanced a budget in 34 years in this country. If you want jobs and investment in this country, you're going to have to have a Democrat because the Republicans simply can't handle money.

KING: You actually think, though, out of nowhere, you could win this?

DEAN: I do. I really do.

This is an insurgency candidate, a candidacy. We are way ahead of where I ever thought we were going to be and I really do believe that most Democrats in this country want someone who is going to take on the president directly and is not afraid to do that and doesn't focus every position based on what the polls say and what his focus groups say.

Look, I don't check the polls before I take positions and it has gotten me in trouble before. I also don't always check carefully about when I say what I think. And that's gotten me in some trouble before. But what the American people are going to see, should I get the nomination, is a Democrat who is not afraid to be a Democrat again.

KING: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll get to some specific issues with Howard Dean, the Democratic presidential candidate, the former Democratic governor of Vermont. Again, he's on the front cover this week of “Newsweek” and “TIME.” Major frontpage story in “The Washington Post” yesterday as well.

Right back with more with the former governor of Vermont right after this.


KING: Our guest is Governor Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. He's also a medical physician. He has been a major scorer on the fund-raising campaign, I'll ask about that in a minute. But he's also been running a television commercial in Austin, Texas. And we want to show you a portion of it. Let's watch.


DEAN: I'm Howard Dean. I'm running for president, and I approved this message because I want to change George Bush's reckless foreign policy, stand up for affordable health care and create new jobs.

You know, when you think about it, in the past two and a half years we have lost over 2.5 million jobs. And has anybody really stood up against George Bush and his policies? Don't you think it's time somebody did?

Visit my Web site, join my campaign, because it's time to take our country back.


KING: Did you gear that so the president could see it while he's on vacation?

DEAN: We actually didn't do that, air it so the president could see it so he's on vacation. We have an enormous amount of support in Austin, and we think there's a reasonable chance that we can win the Texas primary. And you know, I think it's unlikely we're going to win Texas during the general elections, but we need to play hard in Texas.

One of the things that I thought was a mistake that the Democratic Party did was to lay down in some states, because what happens is we need to excite the base. My whole campaign, the difference between my campaign and all the other guys' from Washington campaign is I believe we need to go to the Democratic base first. We have forgotten who put us in office.

We need to get them energized, and then we need to bring new people into the process. You saw the Web site, That Web site has generated over a quarter of a million people who are now supporting us. The fund-raising, you talked about the fund- raising, we raised more money than anybody else in any quarter. We did that because 93,000 people gave us money. Most have never given money to a political campaign, and the average gift was well under $100.

That's how you beat a president who can get as many $2,000 checks as he wants, is to bring three or four million new people into the process, give them a reason to vote, and then you can beat George Bush.

KING: Let's talk about other issues. The president said he wants to codify a law that secures the fact that there will be no gay marriage. Vermont has what, gay union?

DEAN: We have civil unions, which gives equal rights—doesn't give marriage, but it gives equal rights in terms of insurance, employment rights, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, to every single Vermonter, no matter who they are.

You know, interestingly enough, Dick Cheney took a position in 2000 in the debates that is not very different than mine. He said, this is not a federal issue. I really am inclined to leave this matter to the states, and I think we ought to let states figure out how to give equal rights to everybody in the way that they do it. So I think this is kind of a political issue at the federal level, but the power to decide these things really belongs to the state level.

KING: All right. On your own state level, if it were a referendum, would you vote for gay marriage?

DEAN: If what were—we don't have a referendum in my state, and we have civil unions, and we deliberate chose civil unions, because we didn't think marriage was necessary in order to give equal rights to all people.

Marriage is a religious institution, the way I see it. And we're not in the business of telling churches who they can and cannot marry. But in terms of civil rights and equal rights under the law for all Americans, that is the state's business, and that's why we started civil unions.

KING: So you would be opposed to a gay marriage?

DEAN: If other states want to do it, that's their business. We didn't choose to do that in our state.

KING: And you personally would oppose it?

DEAN: I don't know, I never thought about that very much, because we didn't do it in our state for that reason. The body politic agreed in our state that it wasn't the thing to do, so we didn't do it.

I'll tell you what I will do, though. If Massachusetts decides that they're going to do gay marriage, I believe there is a federal involvement, and the federal involvement is not to recognize marriage or civil unions but it is to recognize equal rights under the law. So that if a couple enters into a domestic partnership, or a gay marriage in Canada, or a civil union in Vermont, I think those couples are entitled to federal benefits.

KING: What do you think of the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California?

DEAN: I think that the recall of Gray is probably a mistake. I think that—this is another attempt to overturn an election that was a legitimate election by the right wing. Darrell Issa, congressman from Southern California, very wealthy, very, very conservative, really paid for the recall effort himself, and I think it's better not to upset legal elections. We saw that—something like that happening in the election in 2000. There were a lot of people who still don't think that was the right thing, and I myself—I believe we don't really know who won that election. I think it was a shame the United States Supreme Court decided to stop the recount. And I don't think you want in the most populous state in the country another attempt at overthrowing a legal election by the conservative right.

KING: The latest issue of “U.S. News and World Report” says that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, went to the campaigns of all of you and said that if it was mathematically clear that the party had a nominee, he wanted every loser to drop out, and that you refused. Is that true?

DEAN: Well, I am not aware that Terry McAuliffe—Terry McAuliffe has certainly never had a conversation like that with me. I checked with my campaign, and I never heard of anybody he had that conversation with in my campaign, so I'm not aware that such a conversation ever took place.

I believe, however, that what I'm trying to do in addition to becoming the next president is to build this party back so that we aren't under the thumb of the Rush Limbaughs and the Tom DeLays of the world. I really think that in order to bring new people into the party that I've got to stand up and be proud to be a Democrat the whole way through, be proud of who I am.

KING: Do you have to...

DEAN: But I'm not inclined to drop out, but I never had that conversation with Chairman McAuliffe.

KING: But you're inclined to have your delegates stand up for you in convention?

DEAN: Well, yes, not only do I plan to have my delegates stand up for me in convention, I hope very much there's going to be a majority of them.

KING: How do you account for all this fund-raising?

DEAN: It's average people in my party and independents. You know, I was in a fund-raiser in San Diego at 8:00 in the morning, which is sacrilege in California, and we had Perot people, we had McCain people, we had Green Party people, and we had a huge number of Democrats. There are a lot of independents and Democrats who don't think huge budget deficits are a good thing, who were really upset about the nearly three million private sector jobs that this president has lost, and upset, frankly, about his foreign policy, which appears to be based on things that the president didn't think were necessary to share with the American people.

So I think by standing up and being who you are, people reward you for that. There are going to be some things that people don't agree with me on, but they're going to know where I stand and they're going to know that I'm not going to be afraid to tell them what the facts are.

KING: Any thoughts on the reports that Colin Powell intends to not stay another four years if Bush is reelected?

DEAN: Well, I wouldn't be surprised. I admire Colin Powell a lot, and I read his books, and I think that if the president had listened to Colin Powell we probably wouldn't be in Iraq right now.

I think that, like Christy Whitman before him, the president tends not to listen to voices of moderation. I think Secretary Powell is a voice of moderation. It doesn't surprise me that he might be pretty frustrated with his inability to get much policy headway in the Bush administration.

KING: Would you say, Governor, that you will have to move more towards the center? Is the center where American politics lies?

DEAN: Larry, I am in the center. I balanced budget. The president hasn't done so. I believe that states have the right to make their own gun laws, after enforcing the federal laws vigorously. I believe that we ought to have health insurance for every single American. Harry Truman put that in the Democratic Party platform in 1948. There's nothing that's not centrist about me. I just think that the party and the electorate, the Republican Party and even my own party has simply moved too far to the right.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, take a few calls for Howard Dean. Then our panel will assemble. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.


KING: Before we take a call for the governor, your comment, Congressman Dick Gephardt will get his 10th major from Organized Labor. Apparently the United Steel Workers of America about to support him. Any comment?

DEAN: Dick has been long friend of labor. Actually, I think I was their second choice, I was the machinist second choice and that's not a bad place to be. I commend him for that and wish him well.

KING: New York City, as we go to some calls for Governor Howard Dean, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Governor Dean, I have been so impressed by you ever since I saw you on “Meet the Press.” And I'm going to my first Dean meeting this week. And my question for you is that many Democrats believe that if not for Ralph Nader staying in the election that we wouldn't have George Bush as a president.

So my question to you is, if you do not get the Democratic nomination, will you still run on the independent ticket?

DEAN: No, I will not.

CALLER: If so, how will that impact the upcoming race?

DEAN: I will not run as independent. I will support the nominee. It is essential that George Bush not be re-elected for the future of this country. It is essential for our economy. It's essential, so we can regain the respect we had around the world. And I will under no circumstances run as a third party and independent. I will back the nominee. I hope I am the nominee because I can bring about half those votes that voted for Ralph Nader back into the party. That's how we are going to win. And I think at this point there is no other evidence that any of the other candidates can do that and I think that's why I'm the most likely to beat George Bush.

KING: Santa Cruz, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi Governor Dean. My question to you is, given your medical background and your view on states rights, in your opinion, what should the federal government do about medical marijuana?

DEAN: I don't think they should throw people in jail in California, but I think do think—here's what I think. I think the process by which medical marijuana is being legalized is the wrong process. I don't like it when politicians interfere in medicine. It's why I am very pro-choice. Because I don't think that is the government's business. So what I will do as president is, I will acquire the FDA within first 12 months to evaluate marijuana and see if it is, in fact, a decent medicine or not. If it is, for what purposes—for certain purposes, and I suspect it will be for cancer patients and HIV/AIDS patients. And it should be allowed for that. But I suspect it will not be allowed for things like glaucoma. But we have to do the FDA studies. I think marijuana should be treated like every other drug in the process and there shouldn't be a special process which is based on politics to legalize it.

KING: Wilmington, North Carolina, for governor Howard Dean. Hello.

CALLER: As a real Democrat, and a avid Dean supporter, I was wondering what qualities you would be looking for in a vice presidential running mate and if you would consider one of the well qualified women that we have in public service for the Democratic party?

DEAN: Well, first, A, let me thank you for your help and support, and B, when they say that it is much too early to talk about my running mate. I've got a long way to go and it's nice to be in the position I am right now, but five months before the first primary and caucuses are five an a half months. I do have some ideas. I think the first qualification, and Bill Clinton did this very well, choose somebody who could be president of the United States. That is the thing that you have got to do. Bill Clinton choose Al Gore, who would have be a very good president. Secondly, I'm going to look for somebody with a Washington background. Because the biggest mistake governors make, when they go to Washington, they don't know how to deal with the system.

It is a different world inside Washington than it is everywhere else in the country, which helps me as a candidate because I know that world and it's tougher for the Washington candidates. But to governor you have to get something done. Thirdly, you look at region. The south is a region I am always very interested in as somebody from the north. And finally you take into account the most important constituency groups and women are as important constituency groups, as are African-Americans and Latinos and others. So, all those things go into a mix. We won't work on that for quite some time because I think it would be a little cocky to start picking your vice presidential running mate with—having won only one primary and that didn't have any delegates and that was the primary.

KING: Kingston, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Many Democrats voted to go to war, why are they now seeming to back track and withdraw their support to President Bush. And do you agree—do you not agree with the war any more and trying to win the 2004 elections because no weapons of mass destruction were found? I think...

KING: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut her, but I think we get the gist of the question—governor.

DEAN: I'm not sure the caller understood that I did not support the war and only one of the four or five candidates that you have spoken for tonight. All though, Bob Graham didn't support war and Dennis Kucinich didn't support the war either. But the candidates you have spoken about Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt and Senator Edwards did all support the war. I didn't support the war because I don't think the president made the case. I supported the president, as I said before, in Afghanistan because I thought that was a matter of national security. I supported the first Gulf War. But you don't send troops to war without explaining clearly and frankly to the American people why they have to go. And what this president said was, mainly, gave—made a number of assertions that were not factual.

The argument that I make and some people say as Senator Lieberman did if you didn't support the Gulf War you can't be elected president. I actually believe, that if you're a Democrat and did support the Gulf War, it calls into question your judgment in one of the most serious question or actions any president will have to take, which is sending American citizens to die on a foreign land. When you make that decision you ought know the facts. You ought to ask a lot of questions. If I can figure out that the facts weren't accurate, why couldn't they figure that out in Washington? So, I think not supporting the war is an advantage principally because it shows that I am willing to use very, very tough judgment and it stands against the grain of the president of the United States and many Americans and standing up for what I believe in. Just as John F. Kennedy did in during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

KING: We'll see lots more of you governor. Thanks for very much joining us tonight. We expect to have you in debates as well.

DEAN: Thanks.

KING: Governor Howard Dean, coming to us from Burlington, Vermont. The former Democratic governor of the state of Vermont.

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